Friday, July 31, 2009

Lightning Storms Ignite More Fires on Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

The American Alpine Institute just received the following email from Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest:

Everett, Wa. July 30, 2009 — A lightning storm rolled through the north Cascades yesterday, igniting approximately 30 more fires on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The additional fires range in size from a single tree to two acres.

Forest Service and Department of Natural Resources are staffing the fires with engines, rappellers, smokejumpers and hand crews.

“We are taking action first on fires that are a threat to public safety. Our primary focus is public and firefighter safety,” said Tony Engel, fire management officer for the forest. Fires that are not staffed are being monitored. Engel said the situation is unfolding, "We identified a number of new starts immediately after the storm cells passed and we expect to continue to identify hold-over fires."

Hold-over fires can linger undetected for several days after a lightning storm. Unlike the lighter fuels east of the mountains, heavy west-side fuels can harbor fire for longer periods of time. On the east side fine fuels ignite quickly and burn fast. “It is common to detect fires on the forest weeks after a lightning event,” Engel said.

Six fires have been detected in Mt. Baker District, within Whatcom and Skagit County; 10 in Darrington Ranger District, within Skagit and Snohomish Counties; eight in Skykomish Ranger District, within Snohomish and King Counties; and, five in Snoqualmie Ranger District within Pierce and King Counties. Along with the new fires, more than 50 have been detected throughout the forest.

“Detection is ongoing, and we expect to have additional fires,” Engel said. “We encourage the public to be careful with fire and report what they see.”

Report fires on the state wildland fire hotline at 800-562-6010.

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